YARMOUTH — What started as a journey to self-publish his first book has become a successful, small business for Dean Lunt and his wife Michelle.
Their independent publishing company, Islandport Press, was recently named the Barnes & Noble 2009 Focus on New England award winner for Outstanding Regional Literature. The award is given annually to a publisher or author who significantly contributes to promoting New England literature.
Lunt released his first book, “Hauling by Hand: The Life and Times of a Maine Island,” in February 2000 and said having to produce and promote the book himself laid the groundwork for what would become his own business.
Now, nearly 10 years later, he and his employees – a group of editors, bloggers, Web designers and marketing experts – help novelists publish their books and multimedia from around Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.
“We focus on the Northern New England region because we are most familiar with the area and the people,” Lunt said.
Lunt grew up in Frenchboro and attended a one-room school house. He lived on Mount Desert Island and attended Syracuse University, where he received a degree in journalism and marketing. After working as a reporter throughout New England for 11 years, he decided it was time to work for himself.
Islandport Press publishes original books, out-of-print classics and CDs. Since 2000, the company has published 40 titles and reviews up to 300 manuscripts a year. Within the last two years, Islandport Press has re-released four illustrated children’s books by Maine artist Dahlov Ipcar, has published a book by popular children’s author Lynn Plourde, and one by first-time author Jane Freeberg of Georgetown.
The company recently published several successful humor books and CDs, including “Not Too Awful Bad: A Storyteller’s Guide to Vermont” by Leon Thompson, “Live Free and Eat Pie! A Storyteller’s Guide to New Hampshire” by Rebecca Rule and “Down the road a piece: A Storyteller’s Guide to Maine” by John McDonald.
“I think our success is based on the success of the books,” he said. “We are still growing and always learning.”
Five books and a CD were released in 2009, and Lunt said the goal for 2010 is to release up to eight books and one title as an eBook.
But with bookstores closing throughout northern New England, Lunt said Islandport Press has to be creative in finding places to showcase its regional books and CDs.
“We have a lot of passion for what we do, and for a business with five employees, we do a lot,” he said. “We meet wonderful authors and read their manuscripts, we travel and distribute titles to bookstores, gift shops, farm stands and hardware stores.”
“We hope to continue to produce good books that people will want to read,” Lunt said. “It is a difficult business, but completely satisfying.”